Ed Bedington British beef could be back on the menu in France following this week's lifting of the long standing illegal ban on UK product. However the announcement by French PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Wednesday received a mixed response from the UK industry. NFU president Ben Gill said: "I am pleased the ban has finally been lifted, but it should have never got to this stage. "The French have demonstrated quite incredible arrogance." He said the NFU was considering putting pressure on the European Commission to fine the French in retrospect for the three-year illegal ban. The Meat and Livestock Commission pledged British beef would be back on the French market this month. International manager Peter Hardwick said: "The French market was our biggest in Europe, worth around #180m. "While it would be a mistake to use that figure as a yardstick, we'd like to work back to where we were." However both the British Meat Federation and processors were less optimistic. "The French market was mainly cow beef and bone-in beef, all of which is still restricted under the date-based export scheme," said Anglo Beef Processor spokesman Alistair MacDougall. "This means we will only be able to export prime beef to France. We're examining the situation but we're not optimistic about the volume. There are too many restrictions." BMF director Peter Scott also pointed out that because the UK is only 60% self sufficient, any rise in exporting meant a rise in imports to meet home demand. The move means the MLC can put British beef at the heart of their stand at SIAL this month. {{NEWS }}